Late in 2018, we brought you the news that BMW South Africa was looking at introducing more powerful i3 versions that also boasted more range and battery capacity. They've since landed and we have specifications and pricing for the newcomers.
Still looking like a fresh and futuristic concept straight from a European motor show comes the updated BMW i3. It's difficult to believe that the first i3 launched in South Africa in early 2015. Assembled from a carbon fibre monocoque and a whole lot of recycled materials, the BMW i3 has received a few updates for 2019.
In terms of performance and this is where it gets interesting, BMW South Africa didn't just launch the standard i3, but the sportier i3S is now on sale locally too. Both the i3 and i3S are available in 2 flavours: pure electric and REX. REX stands for Range Extender and these models feature an inline 2-cylinder petrol engine with 28 kW and 56 Nm, which doesn't actually drive the wheels but rather generates additional electricity thus increasing the range. There's a 9-litre petrol fuel tank. The range is estimated at 359 km for the i3 and 345 km for the i3S. The REX models ranges weren't supplied with the BMW brochure but we estimate that there's at least an additional 100 km of range.
The standard i3 has 125 kW and 250 Nm, while the sportier i3S has 135 kW and 270 Nm. BMW claims its i3 can hit 100 kph in 7.3 seconds, while the i3S is even brisker at 6.9. Due to the additional weight of the onboard engines, the REX models are a touch slower at 8.1 and 7.7 seconds respectively. Top speed is rated at 150 kph for the i3, while the i3S is capable of 160 kph. The key differentiators between i3 and i3S is not limited to just engine power increase, but there's also a sportier suspension with sporty steering, giving it a slant towards enthusiastic driving.
Standard specification is impressive for a German brand and we can see only a handful of options available. These range from park assist, reverse cameras, some alloy wheels, sunroof, heated seats and trim options to name but a few.
We'll be driving the updated BMW i3 this week and will update you with additional information.
BMW i3 (2019) Price in South Africa (May 2019)
i3 120Ah R658 500
i3 120Ah REX R740 700
i3s 120Ah R716 900
i3s 120Ah REX R799 100